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Employee housing, work pace, competition from Monaco… How the French Riviera approaches the tourist season

This Tuesday was the first meeting of tourism professionals from the French Riviera gathered at the Palais de l’Europe at the invitation of the Menton Riviera & Merveilles Community Tourist Office, directed by Marie Garcin-Zaiter.

Objective: to allow everyone to meet and discuss their offers and specificities before the start of the summer season. On about thirty stands, about a hundred visitors – restaurateurs and hoteliers – from the four corners of the Carf were able to discover all the cultural and leisure riches available on this large territory (among the exhibitors, from Menton to Tende: various stands on Menton Lemon; Menton Casino; Menton Beer; Maison Herbin; the nautical center; the heritage service; Association of Brigasque traditions and heritage; Saorge monastery; Carf; Via Julia; Departmental Museum of Tende; Camina Mangia de Gorbio; Guides du Mercantour; paragliding at Roquebrune-Cap Martin and the Cap Moderne association; Esat, etc., editor’s note).

“We have a very balanced panel of tourism players from Menton as well as from Bévéra and Roya. All are eagerly waiting for connections and partnerships. This is a real need”, notes Sandrine Gianetti, one of the members in charge of the organization.

But, beyond these moments of sharing and discovery, a central question was the subject of round tables led by local, departmental and even national tourism professionals: “What are the challenges of the hotel business in tomorrow ? “.

Because it seems that the health crisis has acutely accelerated a societal phenomenon, which was already beginning to take shape two years ago: the hotel and tourism professions are having major difficulty recruiting. If this sector has suffered considerably from the Covid, it is also experiencing a societal revolution, which professionals can no longer ignore.

As on the national and regional level, tourism players on the French Riviera are also experiencing a recruitment crisis and have to face many disadvantages compared to their neighbors in Nice and Cannes.

Explanations with Thomas Laurenti, president of the union of the UMIH (Union of trades and industries of the Hotel industry, editor’s note) French Riviera and Brice Duthion, manager of the tourism sector at the South Campus of the Trades of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nice Côte d’Azur.

1. Monegasque competition

“The problem facing Carf professionals is competition from Monaco, which sucks up a large number of job applicants” heartbroken Thomas Laurenti. “Salary conditions are better and so are career prospects. They have more advantageous fixed-term contracts, tips…”

And to add: “We should also review unemployment benefits to promote a return to work..

2. The problem of housing for seasonal workers

This is specific to the east of the department, which has affected the profession for a long time.

Indeed, this problem of the lack of housing on the territory remains important for seasonal workers. Few possibilities, too expensive rents… What discourage all the candidates… and the professionals.

Nevertheless, Thomas Laurenti highlighted the initiative of the town hall of Menton, which has made eight apartments available to professionals this year: “Two restaurateurs have already benefited from it for their employees. It was a first and we hope that this gesture will be repeated…”

3. Few

“On the territory of the French Riviera, there has been no turnover for a long time” points out Brice Duthion. The profession is struggling in a fragile territory, but which remains full of promise.

“We have to reinvent ourselves, because the salary is no longer enough. We have to ask ourselves how to seduce our future employees and collaborators”, concludes Thomas Laurenti.

The tourism revolution must above all be human

After 2019, 2022 is a major year for economic recovery, and this summer, despite the Russians and Chinese not coming, all the lights are green to announce that the season will be exceptional, warns Brice Duthion of the CCI 06.

“Reservations are going beyond expectations with the strong comeback of Americans, English, Germans, Scandinavians and many European customers” he specifies. The line openings at Nice airport favor these good predictions.

“But at the same time, the sector is experiencing a major crisis, the worst it has ever known, particularly in the room and floor service trades, and in the kitchen. After the health crisis, we are at the dawn of a societal change where employees want to give meaning to their action before committing themselves.. Work pace, quality of life, balance between professional and personal life: these are now the main concerns of candidates.

“We have to think differently, move from the customer experience to the employee experience, because the first value of tourism is the employee. This tourism revolution must above all be human…” notes the specialist. And if the crisis is at the global level, the Côte d’Azur is far from being spared: “We reap what we did not sow. Côte d’Azur professionals have forgotten to ask themselves a lot of questions and today we are witnessing a drought of ideas and concepts..

Professionals must reinvent work rhythms, diversify and intensify training, support the upskilling of their employees, create new jobs… This is what Brice Duthion calls “corporate HR transformation”.

Promoting hospitality professions to young people is also one of the objectives of CRT 06 (Regional Tourism Committee). Emmanuel Ricci presented the new national campaign conducted over two years (10 million euros) in partnership with the UMIH and Pôle Emploi.

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